You'll find some great and varied sailing in Florida. You can divide the state into four distinct areas, each with its own appeal and drawbacks.
1). Down the east coast
and the issue is you can't pop in from offshore
just anywhere or get off the ICW on a whim.
2).The Keys are a place unto themselves and issues include shallow waters as noted. The up side is great weather
and beautiful clear waters. Think foreign with no passport required.
3).The west coast
is my personal favorite and the southern bit contains Ft. Myers up to Tarpon Springs but not much heading north from Tarpon until Carabelle and Apalachicola in the panhandle. That jump requires a 24 hour offshore passage
that can get harry if you don't watch the weather.
4). The panhandle lacks the warmer year round weather of southern Florida, but does have some great sailing and large bays around Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, Panama
City, Destin and Pensacola
. Yet we sail the panhandle year round and love it.
Expect to encounter some rules you may not be familiar with up north related to anchorages
and pumpout, but no big deal. You'll also learn to deal with bascule bridges on the ICW as noted - again no biggie.
There is a lot of shallow water throughout the state so good charts or chartplotter
and sound navigation
skills are a must.
Also note that Florida is the bullseye of the hurricane
target from June to October, so constant weather monitoring is crucial in those months.
My son owns a Catalina 30
and it's a great boat for Florida. Come on down and I'm sure you'll love it.